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ligious education of children. How assiduously should the fond parent labor to imbue the mind of the little prattler upon his knee, with the knowledge and fear of God. And let that system of religious education which is begun in the family, be carried into the primary school, from thence into the academy, and up to the public seminary. Such a course of moral instruction, is the more important in this country, on account of the free and republican character of all our institutions. Our civil
government is happily a government of moral influence. It derives its supremacy not so much from the pains and penalties of the statute book, as from the virtue and intelligence of the people. Now the permanent safety of such a community, demands a high tone of moral and relig, ious principle in the great mass of the governed ; and it must be obvious, I think, that the freer any state is, the more virtue is necessary to secure private rights, and to preserve the public tranquillity. A government of opinion, founded on the morality of the Gospel, exerts a silent and invisible influence, which, like the great law of attraction, keeps everything in its place, without seeming to exert any influence at all.
Now, as the literary institutions of every country, must receive their shape and character from the genius of the government, the management of a College, in our own free and happy land, must be the unseen efficiency of moral influence, much more than the frowning shall, or shall not of the written law. But how can this influence be established and maintained over the natural restlessness and ardency of youth? Clearly in no other way but that which I have just pointed out. They must be brought under the sway of an enlightened conscience and of good habits in early childhood. They must in the
strictest sense of the term be religiously educated from their most tender years,
There is another view of the point before us, which immensely enhances the importance of a religious education. If human existence was bounded by this inch or two of time,' or if nothing which we can do for our children could have any influence upon their eternal destiny, the consequences of faithfulness, or unfaithfulness would be comparatively trifling. But when we think of their immortality--of what it is to rise, and shine, and sing—or to sink and wail in outer darkness forever, and then remember that we have the keeping of their precious souls, how can we help trembling under the weight of such a responsibility ? Every system of education should have reference to two worlds ; but chiefly to the future, because the present is only the infancy of being, and the longest life bears no proportion to endless duration. Every instructor should keep distinctly in view, and remind his pupils daily of that long, long hereafter, from which a thousand earthly ages will shrink into nothing
Viewed in the light of eternity, and as qualifications for the kingdom of God, what is health, and what are talents of the highest order ? What are the richest literary acquisitions ? They may dazzle here, but nothing can shine without holiness beyond the grave. It is moral worth, it is piety of heart, or the want of it, which will fix the destiny of the undying soul. Without the image of God, the stupendous intellect of Gabriel would be nought but mighty rebellion and suffering to all eternity. Nor on the other hand, is there a human soul, bearing that image, though dwelling in the most humble clay, and merely looking through the grates of its prison, but
will ere long rise to glory and walk in white' and sing with angels. May a worm, then, like one of us, aspire to the honor and happiness of guiding immortals to heaven-of assisting to prepare them for ' an exceeding and eternal weight of glory?' Who would exchange such a privilege for the diadems of all the Cæsars? This is a delightful theme. It warms and expands and elevates and fills with holy exultation the heart of christian benevolence. But I have already detained you so much longer than I intended, that instead of leaving room for enlargement on this point, I shall be constrained to pass over in silence most of the collateral topics, which I had reserved for the closing pages of the present address.
I am aware, that the view which I have sketched of the three capital branches of education, is not new in the general outline. rejoice to know, that the system which I would recommend, has been in high favor with the wise and good, ever since the Plymouth Colony found a lodge in the wilderness.' Our forefathers were no less the friends of sound learning, than of civil and religious liberty. However scanty their' means might be, it was their earnest desire to raise up men of stature, and not pigmies, to be their successors in bearing the sword of the magistrate, and the ark of the testimony. If they placed a high estimate upon natural genius and mental cultivation, it was with the hope that both would be made subservient to the interests of religion. Hence were the earliest and now most flourishing Colleges of New England, dedicated to Christ and the Church,' by their pious lounders. And in looking over their stellated triennial records, for the names of those who were of old men of renown,' it is peculiarly animating to find, how many of them were as much distinguished for their piety,
as for their talents and erudition. We confidently believe, that those venerable seats of science, from which the worthies’ of so many generations have gone out, to bless and enlighten the churches, and to become the firmest pillars in the state, will be more and more distinguished in the annals of future times. The dedication of which I have just spoken, was not a vain and empty ceremony. There was meaning in every word. It was the love of Clrrist constraining the heart, which prompted to extraordinary sacrifices, in laying the foundations of Harvard, of Yale, of Nassau Hall, and of Dartmouth. The same spirit, we trust, has predominated among the founders of those kindred seminaries, which have more recently sprung up in various parts of our land. In reference to the Institution, which is now just rising into being before our eye, we heed not the reproach of weakness and presumption when we say, that our confident expectations of its future growth and prosperity, rest chiefly upon its being consecrated to Christ and the Church, and being daily commended to God in so many closets and families. May Christ and the church be inseparable from all the prayers and hopes and wishes and gifts of its benefactors; and may Christ be formed in the heart of every student, the hope of glory. Then, not only vill it live; but be worthy to live Then will the blessing of many ready to perish coine upon its sons.
The observations which I have made in this address, have so direct a bearing upon the question at what age ought a youth to enter College ? That I hope I shall be indulged in a few additional remarks. On this subject, no general rule will apply to every case. Some lads have more maturity, both of body and mind, at twelve, than others have at fifteen, or sixteen. Still,
there is a general order of nature, which should be carefully studied and observed. Neither the physical constitution and health, nor the intellectual powers, nor the moral habits of a mere child, are sufficiently developed and consolidated, to render it either profitable, or safe for him, to encounter the many difficulties and temptations of a thorough classical course. All experience proves, that not one lad in a hundred, at the age of thirteen, or fourteen, can grapple with natural and mental philosophy, or with the bigher branches of mathematics. In order to do this, the mind must have attained to something like maturity, and this it does not ordinarily do, till near the close of minority. If a student can graduate at twenty, or even a year' or two later, he ought to be satsified. His education is much more likely to be thorough, than if he had entered very young.
It cannot be doubted that many have lost the greater part of their Junior year, as well as much of the Sophomore and Senior, merely by entering college too early and being driven on through studies to which their minds were not yet equal. Many, also, by too much confinement, and by intense application in the greenness of their growth, have early closed both their studies and their lives together. Nor are these the only objections to premature matriculation. A child can rarely form a correct estimate of the value of a good education—so that if he was able to press on, with the older competitors, he is not so likely to feel the importance of diligence in study. And what may be more than all, is the exposure of his morals, at the critical age, when he is most likely to be led into temptation.
To the question, 'what then shall we do with our sons, when they are fitted for College at an early age ?' I answer, put them upon a preparatory course, which will